Aurora Expeditions’ voyages offer unique opportunities to experience some of our planet’s most extraordinary and rare bird and wildlife. Below is a good example of what you can expect to see on our wildlife expeditions!
Penguins symbolise Antarctica. Along the spine of the Antarctic Peninsula and into the Weddell Sea, we encounter vast numbers of brushtail penguins: gentoos, chinstraps and Adelies. We visit many of their breeding colonies and regularly encounter them on icebergs and icefloes along the way. Our East Antarctic voyages visit the region of the emperor, the largest penguin of all. Emperor penguins spend each winter at their colonies on fast ice, through bitterly harsh conditions they incubate their eggs and raise their chicks. By summer, hordes of emperor chicks have grown to enormous fluffy fledglings, preparing to take their chances on their own, while legions of Adelie penguins return to their large colonies to raise their chicks. Seabirds abound in Antarctica. With its tremendous productivity, the Southern Ocean supports myriad seabirds. The wandering albatross, the world’s largest flying bird with a wingspan of over three metres, is a wondrous sight wheeling and diving over the waves. We see scores of different albatross and petrels. On land, we encounter two varieties of skua, sheathbills, kelp gulls and the striking blue-eyed cormorant.
Home to a wider variety of birdlife, the rookeries of these subantarctic islands comprise hundreds of thousands of king penguins flanked by large brown chicks. We also see gentoo, chinstrap and Magellanic, as well as the distinctive macaroni and rockhopper penguins—adapted to scale impossibly steep cliffs to reach their nests. Considered by some the most beautiful seabird of all, breeding pairs of light-mantled sooty albatross frequently wheel in the winds and can be found nesting amongst the tussocks. There is also a small but delightful collection of species found only on South Georgia or the Falkland Islands: the South Georgia pipit, and the South Georgia pintail, and on the Falklands, the flightless steamer duck, Cobb’s wren, and Ruddy-headed geese, among others.
A wildlife playground where king penguins cavort around our zodiacs, and royal, gentoo and rockhopper penguins nest in their thousands. Along Macquarie’s coastal slopes, light-mantled sooty albatross return from months at sea to court and breed. This remarkable subantarctic island is home to a fantastic array of the world’s seabirds and some of unique wildlife.
The northern summer attracts millions of migratory birds. Little auks, Brunnich’s and common guillemots and puffins belong to the Alcid family, breeding on ledges beyond the reach of Arctic foxes—and even some particularly adventurous polar bears. The cliffs provide nesting sites for glaucous gulls, kittiwakes and the northern fulmar. The lush Arctic tundra abounds with ptarmigan, sandpipers and waders, while pristine tarns reflect snow buntings, great and Arctic skuas, red-throated divers, geese, phalaropes, long-tailed ducks and eiders.
Stretching across the nine time zones of the Russian Arctic, are dramatic bird cliffs. Here, puffins, gulls and cormorants make for close-up viewing. In Russia’s Far East we encounter enormous flocks of whiskered auklets, and rare wonders such as Stellar’s sea eagle, northern fulmars and albatross.
Papua New Guinea
This exquisite land is not only steeped in culture and tradition, but boasts a showcase of tropical birdlife. The jungle comes alive with the sights and sounds of hornbills, parrots, palm and blue-eyed cockatoos, great-billed herons, and the magnificent birds of paradise.
We visit an untouched wilderness in Australia’s remote north-west corner. Offshore islands host colonies of frigate birds, brown boobies, crested terns and sandpipers. The coastline attracts a voluminous array: Australian pelicans, white-necked and eastern reef herons, Brahminy kites, mangrove herons, osprey, darters, black kites, white-bellied sea eagles, chestnut rails, beach stone-curlew, pied oystercatchers, bar tailed godwits, little corellas and crested terns.